Joe Manchin mulls independent run for presidency amid tough re-election path
Joe Manchin refuses to be bullied for his vote. Image via AP.

Will the WV Senator scramble the ballot?

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has benefited from waiting to reveal where he stands as the swing vote in a chamber closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.

He’s taken the same approach when it comes to the next phase of his political career: The moderate Democrat has teased possible retirement, a run for reelection to the Senate or even a presidential campaign in 2024 — possibly as an independent candidate.

During a multi-day trip to West Virginia’s capital this week, the 76-year-old expressed growing frustration with the polarized U.S. two-party system.

“I’m having a hard time — I really am,” he said while touring a Charleston metal stamping plant. “The two-party system, unless it changes, will be the downfall of our country.”

He told reporters he was “getting closer” to a 2024 decision, repeating his line that he’ll make an announcement before the end of the year. But he deflected questions about his identity as a Democrat, which he’s held since first running for West Virginia’s House of Delegates in 1982.

“Don’t worry about the ‘D’ or the ‘R’, worry about the person — who is that person?” said Manchin, who was a Democratic secretary of state and governor of West Virginia. “There can be a good D and a bad D and a good R and a bad R, but the identity — I like more the independent identity.”

Manchin, who joined Congress in 2010 and rose to prominence in West Virginia politics when both coal and the Democratic Party were king, has wielded his influence like few other politicians in recent years.

He managed to win reelection in 2018 in one of former President Donald Trump’s most loyal states as the last of his party to hold statewide office in now-deep red West Virginia.

Some progressive Democrats over the past few years have grown weary of Manchin. His vote is one of two they’ve had to beg, convince and cajole in a 51-49 Senate — but his nearly constant chides at many fellow Democrats, particularly President Joe Biden, left them concerned he could switch parties and take away their slim hold on power.

Two Republicans, Justice and Rep. Alex Mooney, are already vying for Manchin’s Senate seat. The senator had recruited Justice to run for governor as a Democrat before Justice, in a surprise move, switched to the GOP at a rally for Trump during his first term.

Over the last months, Manchin appeared in New Hampshire at an event for No Labels, a national political movement that could offer an independent presidential ticket in 2024. He’s currently holding around $10.8 million in campaign funds, compared to Mooney’s $1.5 million and Justice’s $800,000.

Still, Justice has a high approval rating in West Virginia, making him a formidable opponent for any candidate.

Robert Rupp, a retired political history professor at West Virginia Wesleyan, called Manchin one of the most successful campaigners in recent state history because of his personal relationships with constituents.

The question, Rupp said, is whether Manchin will “risk his reputation and further political career by running for a race where the odds are overwhelmingly against him.”

Associated Press


  • TJC

    October 14, 2023 at 10:37 am

    To me it seems that Manchin is very proud of himself for being a conservative Democrat., not because he has values to match but because it got him elected in Red West Virginia. He seems to think it is possible his clever positioning there will appeal to the whole nation. But if he thinks the demographics of West Virginia, one of the nation’s poorest states, one of the nation’s most federal-funds dependent states, reflects the nation, he is kidding himself.

  • David

    October 14, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    That’s probably correct— that WV isn’t a microcosm of the country right now but I wish it were (politically). Someone who could listen to and work with both parties seems rare. Anybody is better than the 2 we have right now. The reason no one sane wants to run is hinted at, at the end of the article – anyone who runs is torn to shreds even if they are a saint. The perfect candidates are out there in business and they don’t want to run for personal reasons. I blame the media. It foments discontent.
    Moderates are boring but we (the few) could get things done.

  • Sonja Fitch

    October 16, 2023 at 6:38 am

    Might is well. Manchin ain’t nothing but a MAGA cult leader! This man is not a Democrat! Lol.

Comments are closed.


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